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29 June 2016

Ahead of the summer holiday season, Belfast FashionWeek director Cathy Martin advises there are a few simple rules to keeping your suitcase light, but your family still in style…

Whether your family holiday is for one week or four, packing can be a minefield –especially if you’re staycationing and you have to plan for bad to mediocre weather, as well as sunny summer climes. Add in the practicalities of airline luggage allowances or boot space in a hire car, even a mid-holiday change of location, and mild panic can set in. In my experience however, less is most definitely more, so think back to all those holidays when you’ve brought half the suitcase back unworn; and be ruthless with packing –you’ll be amazed at how little you actually need.

Step 1: Gather all the garments you anticipate needing. Then put half of them back. I’m not kidding, this actually works if you are realistic with yourself about what you’ll be doing and what you’ll wear. For a start, select clothes in the same or complementary colour family, (for me it’s a whole lot of black and a whole lot of white/cream, plus some statement colour pieces). Pack more tops than bottoms – and don’t forget that some garments can do double duty, like yoga pants or running shorts that can moonlight as pyjamas). And remember, you don’t need both black jeans and white jeans – pack white jeans and black leggings, then you can slip on your black leggings under your kaftan for sundowners without having to change. Voila! Right here I should mention the M&S front roll knot kaftan for £19.50, which looks great and works for day or early evening if worn with jewellery and aforementioned leggings!

Step 2: Roll softer garments and fold stiffer ones. Underwear, T-shirts, beachwear, jeans, and evening fleeces or sweatshirts won’t wrinkle when rolled tightly, in fact most things can survive a packing roll quite well. You can fold stiffer garments, but personally I choose not to bring them away – everything is rolled in my case, because, let’s face it, who wants to iron on holiday?
A quick tip to minimise wrinkles is to cover the clothes with a dry-cleaning bag. It’s like Botox for your clothes. Because of the bag’s slippery surface, folded clothes don’t stay in one place long enough for creases to set. Easy upgrade: Place a bag between each layer of clothing. To get to a certain layer easily, simply pull the ends of the bag up on either side.

Step 3. SHOES. Personally, I have a rule of three when it comes to packing shoes because in the past I have brought 11 pairs to Cape Town, and seven to Australia. I mean, what was I thinking? The Holy Grail is typically one flat sandal or loafer for city walks or lunches out, plus some trainers for training (if you’re that way inclined on holiday) plus an evening shoe for nights out. And choose shoes which are comfy and go with everything – for me, it’s the nude Jimmy Choo Anouk (or the cheaper version from OFFICE at £65). Then you can wear another pair to travel in – this year I bought cool, gold shell-toed trainers from Carvela and SUPERGA flatforms, both of which are perfect for airport travel. Havianas, or similar beach flip-flop, are an extra free bonus to my top 3. Stuff shoes with sunglasses and electronics chargers – even underwear – to save room. And always pack your shoes first (I pack them in the bottom half of the case and the smaller, more-likely-to-spill-everywhere things go into the top half with the zip cover) so you can niggle stuff in around them.

Step 4. Beauty. It is such a pain to decant your lovely products into travel containers, but it really does help with space, and when they’re done you can leave the containers behind (recycling them of course) to make room for any sneaky holiday purchases you’ve made. If your trip is a short, hand-luggage-only one, this is vital as most airports now limit liquids to one clear plastic bag per person.

Step 5: Lastly, what about packing for the kids? When it comes to kids, if yours are like mine, then they’ll want to spend the whole time in their swimming gear and not much else – which is great for family suitcase space. I buy 90 per cent of Valentina’s clothes from British brand Boden. Their clothes are bright and colourful and are made from durable, quality fabrics (plus they have great re-sale value on eBay!) and this summer their collections didn’t fail to wow both me and the minis. Be strict with toys and gadgets – only whatever can fit into their hand luggage if flying is my rule. And as for nappies and lotions and potions, keep these to a minimum if you can, or buy on arrival, but always have a little bottle of Calpol and Nurofen handy as you never know when they’ll get an infection from the pool or a bump or bruise going that extra wee bit nuts at summer sports!

Bon Voyage!

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